LIVING IN FEAR OF TURNING 40.
I could see the fear in her expression. We were sitting in a crowded coffee shop, and I had to pull my stool a little closer to her to make space for the two girls who wanted to squeeze in next to us. My friend was getting an up-close view of my face. I could see her seeing me, with my crow’s feet, vertical lines around my lips, and creases that show up everywhere when I smile. My sweet friend is 39, and living in fear of turning 40. Looking at my 53-year-old face was freaking her out a bit. I’m not offended; I feel the same way too, sometimes.
AGING IN A YOUTH-OBSESSED CULTURE ISN’T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.
Aging in a youth-obsessed culture isn’t for the faint of heart. Celebrities get openly excoriated for looking at their age. And for the regular folk, the expectation is to shorten your hair, lose your style, and your identity. You don’t really need them; you’re old after all. The message seems to be; aging is a sign of failure or a send-off into obscurity. Youth is idolized, and age is to be feared. No wonder my thirty-something friend looked so horrified. She is about to leave the era of youth and turn 40, the land of “mid-life.”
TURNING 40 IS A NEW ERA OF SELF-DISCOVERY.
I’m sitting over here, living in the land of “mid-life,” giggling, because I know the secret, the well-kept secret. The best years aren’t behind; they’re ahead. Turning 40 is a new era of self-discovery, learning to live your truth and living with intention. It’s only going to be awful if you make it so. And, honestly, my friend, I hope you did NOT peak at twenty-five or thirty!
MY 40’S AND 50’S HAVE BEEN THE MOST LIBERATING YEARS OF MY LIFE.
The truth is, my 40’s and 50’s have been the most liberating years of my life. I am not going to lie to you, watching myself change physically has been hard at times. Mostly because I instinctively compare myself to twenty and thirty-somethings. Once I let go of my preloaded assumptions about age, my future opened up in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
THERE’S A RICHNESS AND A TRUTH THAT COMES WITH AGE.
There are a richness and truth that comes with age. Time allows you to look back and savor the good stuff, to accept what you cannot change, the courage to change what you can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I’m not one to look at age as a curse. I pride myself on learning as much as I can from all life throws at me. Turning 40 was no exception. I am sharing with you insights that changed my life.
SIX THINGS I LEARNED AFTER TURNING 40:
I learned the true meaning of self-love.
1. I learned the true meaning of self-love. I stopped quietly demanding that the world (and I mean all people) prove to me that I’m valuable, lovable, or significant. This meant I had to stop looking to other people for what I should’ve been giving to myself; radical love and acceptance. I am responsible for loving myself and showing others how to love me. It’s up to me to let go of the thoughts and beliefs that pile shame and fear on me. I learned that hoping and waiting for anyone else to do this for me was a waste of my life and not fair to my relationships.
If I stay focused on my past,I’ll be sure to recreate it.
2. If I stay focused on my past, I’ll be sure to recreate it. Fixating on my failures, insults, pain, and all the time’s someone did me wrong only keeps me living in my past. While my history helps me to understand why I think the way I do and why I act the way I do, keeping my attention there deprives me of living in the present and creating a future that makes me happy. I learned that history has a way of recreating itself unless I learn from it, move forward, and intentionally shape the future I want.
Aging is a privilege and life is a gift.
3. Aging is a privilege and life is a gift. Many people would love the privilege of getting older and never get it. When I understand that life is a gift, all the years I am racking up become a sign that I am loved, I am wanted and my life has meaning; this comes from a power far greater than me. I am humbled and honored to be ticking away the years. Age is by no means a curse, cherish it.
Turning 40 is an invitation to reevaluate life.
4. Turning 40 is an invitation to reevaluate life. The 20’s and 30’s are building years. Education, careers, businesses, families; many of us, including me, were grinding it out, to prove ourselves and earn our way forward. Then, I hit my 40’s and I had an urge to question my life, all of it. I began to reevaluate the choices I’d made, the relationships I’d hung onto, even beliefs that had gone unquestioned for most of my life. What did I discover? I was living out of a default mode. I began the process of realigning my life. My values, my beliefs, my purpose, how I spent my time, money, and energy— all went were scrutinized. Reevaluating my life was essential for living my truest, best life.
I don’t put up with BS anymore- especially my own!
5. I don’t put up with BS anymore- especially my own! There’s a fabulous quote by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) that goes like this, “I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.” Amen and amen! After turning 40 I came to the realization that I was creating the BS that kept showing up in my life and it was my job to make it stop. I can’t blame other people for the chaos I create and I don’t let other people blame me for theirs. Not putting up with BS is a daily practice, some people call this setting boundaries.
I get to write my own script.
6. I get to write my own script. I’ve been given this life as a beautiful gift. And now, more than ever I understand that life is a story that I get to tell. No, I’m not in control of most things, but I am in control of me. My thoughts, my feelings and my actions, these are my life. I have the opportunity everyday to decide who I am going to be. I get to dream, set goals, pursue love, give, get, write, talk, share, and create value in the world. Every moment of everyday my life is telling a story and I get to write the script. I wish I could have appreciated this sooner in life, but I’m also a firm believer that everything happens when it’s supposed to.
Aging in inevitable, so, you may as well embrace it. How you see turning 40 is yours for the choosing. My Hope for you is that you will live your life with intention and use your years to create love, receive love and find work that brings you joy.
Until next time,